Friday, July 24th, 2020


Panacea, Wouldn’t Want to Be Ya

In the past month, America has seen Covid-19 cases double to 4 million. In short, we're not flattening the curve. The curve is flattening us. That's why so many of us are putting a lot of hope and faith in a vaccine. While most experts agree that a vaccine is possible and that it could be ready in a matter of several months, there's still a long way to go before we'll see normality without a telescope. The Atlantic's Sarah Zhang with a very interesting Vaccine Reality Check. "We may have to endure more months under the threat of the coronavirus than we have already survived. Without the measures that have beat back the virus in much of Europe and Asia, there will continue to be more outbreaks, more school closings, more loneliness, more deaths ahead. A vaccine, when it is available, will only mark the beginning of a long, slow ramp down. And how long that ramp down takes will depend on the efficacy of a vaccine, the success in delivering hundreds of millions of doses, and the willingness of people to get it at all." (In other words, we don't just need a vaccine. We need the government to be remarkably efficient and citizens to behave rationally. Uh oh.)

+ It won't help that everything has been politicized, even the CDC. Their school reopening plan (coming just weeks before schools were scheduled to open, and long after most of them had enacted plans of their own) is short on new health straregies, and long on politics. NYT: A new CDC statement on schools calls for reopening and downplays the potential health risks.

+ Covid-19 doesn't care about politics, false promises, or grand plans. Buzzfeed: Trump just canceled his GOP convention in Jacksonville. (Florida will be short one Florida Man.)


Awaken the Pliant Within

"Two recent disturbing events may finally awaken the world to the scale and horror of the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs, a mostly secular Muslim ethnic minority, in Xinjiang, China. One is an authoritative report documenting the systematic sterilization of Uighur women. The other was the seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of 13 tons of products made from human hair suspected of being forcibly removed from Uighurs imprisoned in concentration camps. Both events evoke chilling parallels to past atrocities elsewhere, forced sterilization of minorities, disabled, and Indigenous people, and the image of the glass display of mountains of hair preserved at Auschwitz." (Sadly, I don't sense an awakening.) Foreign Policy: The World's Most Technologically Sophisticated Genocide Is Happening in Xinjiang.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Three identical strangers were separated at birth, and through a truly bizarre set of pre-internet coincidences, they managed to connect as young adults. And that's the just the beginning of the excellent documentary, Three Identical Strangers.

+ What to Hear: "Who were the nine other women in Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Harvard Law class? The justice remembers them all." The excellent Dahlia Lithwick tracked down all the surviving female members of the class to tell a story of a very different time. The Class of RBG. And here's a follow-up conversation Dahlia had with RBG herself.

+ What to Newsletter: Over the past several months, Eli London interviewed newsletter writers to develop a list of The 80 Best Single-Operator Newsletters. NextDraft appears atop the list with this review: "Probably the most important newsletter on the internet." Aside from that woeful understatement, it's a good, eclectic list, and it's good to support the indies. That used to be what the internet was all about.


A Portland in the Storm

"It's something I joke about with my friends,' Mr. Fasoranti, who is Black, said over the din of protest chants this week. 'There are more Black Lives Matter signs in Portland than Black people.'" NYT: How One of America's Whitest Cities Became the Center of B.L.M. Protests.

+ "The irony is that before Trump deployed federal agents costumed as soldiers, Portland's protests were on the wane." The New Yorker: Trump's Fake Solution to the Fake Crisis in Portland.

+ Timothy Snyder who has been warning us about the trends we're seeing now since day one of the Trump era: In Portland, the Baby Fascists Have Shown Their Face.


Backstop, Hey, What’s That Sound

"Over the loudspeaker, actor Morgan Freeman read a speech written by McCutchen and Maria that began: 'In order to achieve effective change and create a new canvas of optimism, empathy must lead the charge. This moment signifies our charge. Our brotherhood. Our unity. Equality and unity cannot be until there is empathy.' Players and coaches from both teams then took to one knee, with most bowing their heads." Phillies' Andrew McCutchen unites with Yankees, Nationals for pregame ceremony acknowledging injustice. You can say a lot of bad things about 2020, but it was the year America's Pastime became All of America's Pastime. A couple miles from the White House, it really was quite a scene to behold.


Meatpacking Heat

"Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker opened an investigation into the top meatpacking companies in June over allegations that they exploited workers, increased prices for American consumers and exported a record amount of meat to China during the coronavirus pandemic. They also questioned the companies about lobbying President Trump to sign his executive order in April to keep meatpacking plants open despite coronavirus outbreaks." Warren, Booker call for OSHA standards for meatpacking plants in next relief package. (There's not a lot of political upside that comes with standing up for society's most vulnerable workers. Glad someone is doing it anyway...)


AOC to Shining Sea

"The politics of our moment are dominated by a bully of miserable character, a President who has failed to contain a pandemic through sheer indifference, who has fabricated a reëlection campaign based on bigotry and the deliberate inflammation of division. His language is abusive, his attitude toward women disdainful. Trump is all about himself: his needs, his ego, his self-preservation. Along the way he has created a Republican Party in his own image. Imitators like Ted Yoho slavishly follow his lead. On the House floor Thursday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exemplified a different sort of character. She defended not only herself; she defended principle and countless women. And all in just a few short minutes on the floor of the House of Representatives." David Remnick in The New Yorker: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Delivers a Lesson in Decency on the House Floor.

+ If you haven't seen the speech, it's top notch. (Yoho called her a bitch. She proved she's a badass.)


Michael Scott Free?

"It's retaliation because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others." Vanity Fair: Michael Cohen Is Out of Jail and Manifesting a Book Deal. Two things to consider. The uplifting: It turns out you can't throw someone back in jail because you don't want them to write a book. The depressing: Michael Cohen will publish a book before I do. SAD!

+ It's not just Cohen or Mary Trump. The administration is trying to silence all critics. NYT: A new documentary peers inside the secretive world of immigration enforcement. The filmmakers faced demands to delete scenes and delay broadcast until after the election.


You Aren’t Ready for Some Football

In a turn of events you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, but you might wish on Daniel Snyder, the Redskins were unable to come up with an alternate name. WaPo: NFL franchise to go by ‘Washington Football Team' this season, delaying permanent name change. (Prediction: This name will catch on to such an extent that they'll make it permanent.)


Feel Good Friday

"Long-time friends Joe Feeney and Tom Cook made a pact in 1992 - sealed with a handshake - that if one of them won the US Powerball lottery they would share it. Nearly 30 years later the numbers came up for Tom - and he honored the deal." (This is a reminder of when people were decent. And when they could shake hands...)

+ This mom donated her lottery winnings to a wounded police officer. Now the community is paying her back.

+ Racism in Trader Joe's products? How a Bay Area teen fired up the nation.

+ Greta Thunberg will donate $114,000 to fight the coronavirus in the Brazilian Amazon.

+ The New Yorker: The Force Is Still Strong with John Williams.

+ Chad and JT try to solve the mask problem in Huntington Beach.

+ The newly named NHL Team, Seattle Kraken (see, DC, was that so hard?), is donating proceeds for all gear sales to local nonprofits.